Dogs seem to have an uncanny knack of knowing when you are about to try and give them a pill. Whether it is the smell, your body language or doggy intuition, your dog will often be aware of when the wormers are coming out.
Getting a dog to take pills can be tricky but, with a little forethought and creativity there are several foolproof ways to give dogs pills which include hiding them in food, placing the pill in their mouths and also using special pill pockets, all of which can be successful.
There are a few of reasons why your dog would refuse pills and medicines and, if you think about these then it can help you to get your dog to take pills.
Firstly your dog has an incredible sense of smell, his smelling ability is beyond human comprehension and some idea of his ability is made in the excellent book ‘Inside of a Dog’ by Alexander Horowitz:
Most humans can see a building in reasonable detail from 3 miles away. If we equate the dog’s sense of smell to our sense of sight – your dog could see the same building, in the same detail, from 3000 miles away!
So your dog can smell pills and they probably don’t smell too good.
Dogs are also great when it comes to human body language and understanding you. If you feel uncomfortable giving your dog pills or adopt an approach which he perceives as a potential threat, then you’ll struggle to give him his tablets.
Easy things you can try to give your dog pills
There are a few ‘tricks’ that you can employ to get your dog to take pills. Your success with these will depend on your dog and how you attempt them. Different dogs react in different ways ( just like children and people) so be flexible with your efforts.
- The easiest method is to simply mix the pill in with your dog’s meal. Now, often if your dog just has dry food, he will smell the pill and eat all his food leaving the pill behind. This is the time to add a special treat to his food, something greasy and smelly such as tuna or sardines. Squash them into his food to make a nice gooey mess and mix the pill in.
- Hide his pill in a smelly treat. The best and least messy option is a nice piece of cheese. Choose something like Cheddar and mould the cheese around the pill, so that the pill is hidden inside the cheese. Give your dog the cheesy ball and hope for the best as a crafty dog will eat the cheese and spit the pill out – so keep an eye on him to make sure he takes the pill.
- You can use a pill pocket. These are nice doggy treats that have ‘secret compartments’ inside them. You hide the pill in the ‘compartment’ and give it to your dog. They are often chicken flavoured ( which is a great flavour for dogs) so they often eat them quite happily. We’ve found good pill pockets on Amazon which you can find here.
The other way to give your dog a pill
You can try every trick in the book with treats and other stuff but, sometimes your dog will just spit the pills out. You can use all of the cheese, sardines and treats, which he will enjoy but he knows where the pill is and it ends up on the floor.
There’s nothing else for it, you’re going to have to give it to him. You may need to enrol the support of a human helper for this.
Get your helper to hold your dog while you, armed with the pill, open his mouth. The easiest way to get a dog to open his mouth is to apply gentle pressure with your fingers and thumb to his upper lips, pressing them gently against his teeth, his mouth should open,
As soon as it does pop the pill in and then hold his muzzle shut to stop him from spitting it out. Rub his nect up and down and he should swallow the pill, often he’ll pop his tongue out as he swallows it.
When he does give him lots of praise and a nice, tasty treat.
Many dog medicines are becoming available in liquid form and more vets are prescribing these for dog owners.
They are supplied with a small syringe and you simply fill the syringe with the required amount of medicine and then squirt the contents into your dog’s mouth – the side of his mouth is the best and easiest place to do this.
If your dog is difficult to get medicines into then this would be a good and easy option for you to consider – ask your vet.
Taking smelly pills is not normal for any animal and dogs are no exception. With a little thought you can make it much easier to get your dog to take pills and with practice and experience you will find the best method for your dogs.